Road Trip to Seattle: Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon has long been high on our list of places to visit, and we finally got there on our cross-country road trip from Charleston to Seattle. Even after seeing countless pictures and reading many descriptions, Grand Canyon still appears unbelievably immense when first seen in person. We spent most of our visit on an…

Four great products to enhance your winter cruising

 Here’s an edited version of an article to appear in Pacific PowerBoat’s next issue.


We really enjoy our winter cruising, but when it’sdark from before 1800hrs until first light arrives about 0700 the dynamics are quite different to summer cruisingwhen we’re still on the beach or BBQing until much later. These four products have helped keep us safe, warm and entertained during those 13 hours of darkness aboard Rapport.

See the lightTechlight hand-held spot

In days gone by our hand-held lights were usuallya 12 volt spotlight with a halogen bulb connected through a cigarette lighter socket anda trusty battery powered Dolphin . Whenusing these duringnight searches as Coastguard volunteers we often found the boat’s wiring to the power socket was too light for sustained use of the spotlight, due to the heat generated, while the Dolphinhad limited range and runtime plusexpensive batteries to replace. Also if the Dolphin hadn’t been used for a while we needed to remove and replace the (same) battery, presumably to provide a better connection. 

But a technical revolution has been occurring during the last 15 years or so not only with LED bulbs, that provide brighter light, give a higher quality beam and consume less power, but with rechargeable lithium batteries that continue to improve as well as becoming lower cost. I can distinctly recall when I first became seriously aware of this. Technical guru Chris aka MacGyver, our most frequent visitor to Envoy made his first visit in late 2010. We were sitting in the cockpit after sunset in a bay near Bodrum when Chris showed me a black aluminium flashlight about 130mm long, with an LED bulb and powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. This compact light easily illuminated trees on the foreshore, which I guess was about 250 metres away. By comparison the light from my largest flashlight – a clunky unit with 4 x D cell batteries and conventional bulb couldn’t even reach the shore. Flashlights using conventional dry cell batteries lose their brightness early on as the batteries start to lose their charge, however lithium battery powered lights can lose much more charge before their brightness reduces. We now carry one of the new generation MK 7 Dolphins with an LED bulb aboard as one of our low cost general purpose flashlights together with a rugged, no-nonsense looking TeklightST-3329 we bought from Jaycar Electronics for $159. The Techlight has an incredible 480 metre rangeand its 4,500 lumens of light (the Dolphin has 200 lumens) provides amazing brightness. It’s waterproof and floats, has a convenient wrist security strap and its lithium battery pack is rechargeable using either a mains charger orUSB cable, both supplied. Its full power option provides 75 minutes use while its still very bright low power option increases this to 150 minutes. If the proverbial hits the fan the unit can also emit a continuous SOS signal. In essence the Techlight provides the power of a hard wired spotlight with portability and we love it.

User tips: it takes about 40 minutes for human eyes to completely adjust to darkness so using low level red lighting at the helm and reducing brightness on navigation screens helps maintain night vision. Don’t try to use any spotlight through windows and avoid directing the beam on reflective surfaces.

Have we moved – Anchor Watch HD app for devices

When the wind is howling at 40 knots with the boat moving around during squalls as we encountered during early July’s “weather bomb” it can be difficult to tell if your anchor’s dragging during the night, especially as distance is far more difficult to estimate during night time. Most plotters incorporate anchor alarms, but as with our boat these may be on the flybridge and difficult to hear below. Enter Anchor Watch HD – a free app allowing you to maintain anchor watch from below or even while away from your boat.

When you open the app while connected to the internet it shows a Google Earth view of your current location and while Google Earth is not essential to use the system, being able to see your position on a map provides additional reassurance. This view is historical, so boats shown on the map will not be there now. You can change the scale using normal two finger zoom.

After your anchor is set press the anchor button and an anchor icon with an orange circle around it appears at your position. Now while the anchor icon remains in the original anchored position a blue/white/blue circle shows your current position. There are two on screen buttons to the right of the anchor button that increase and decrease the alarm range, which would typically be about 15 metres to allow for some sideways movement. The actual range displays on top centre of screen together with the distance and bearing from your current position to the original anchored position. If your vessel moves outside the set alarm range a volume adjustable (seriously loud at full volume) siren sounds and a dialogue box appears allowing you to ignore the alarm for 30 seconds while you adjust the scale or “raise the anchor”. The app can also send an alarm message by sms or email allowing you to monitor your anchored position while going ashore.

User tips: the app consumes a lot of power so keep your device charging when it’s using this app. Make a note of your GPS position after anchoring so that if you suspect dragging you can compare that with your current GPS position.

Stay warm as toast – Gasmate heater

Even on cold nights,once we start cooking the boat warms up quickly and when using ourgenerator we can also run our 2.4Kw electric fan heater. At other times we use our Gasmate portable heater with its ceramic burner providingan atmospheric warm glow. We bought ours from Bunnings costing $140 and usingdisposable 220gm butane gas canisters costing about $1.40 and lasting about 90 minutes. It’s very safe as a simple lever disconnects the butane cartridge when not in use and gas supply automatically stops if the unit should be accidentally knocked over, the oxygen level becomes too low or the flame goes out. It’s piezo ignition works well and it’s compact and smart with the butane cartridge housed within the casing.

User tip: when using the Gasmate allow some fresh air into your boat and never use it while sleeping.

Gasmate butane cartridge heater and Techlight spotlight

Entertainment during those long nights – RSE Mini-Lite Plus

We promised ourselves our next boat would have Sky TV capability to watch favoritessuch as Super Rugby. When we bought Rapport she already had an Avtex flat screen and a TracVision TV5 satellite dish enabling us to watch free to air TV. Our friend Chris suggested buying anRSE Mini-Lite high definition digital satellite receiver enabling us to plug in our Sky card from home.Theunit is easy to install, attaching to the rear of the flat screen and wired to our AC power supply. It’s performed welland accessesSky channelswherever we are, except for some unknown reason Oneroa.The RSE unit costs $199 and can be bought through RSE in Takanini orproviders of caravan accessories.

User tip: the power to the Mini-Lite and screen must be off beforeyou insert and remove the Sky card. If you don’t do this the Sky card will no longer work until after it’s used again in your box at home.

Enjoy your winter cruising!

Chasing Waterfalls in New York

 “A river cuts through a rock, not because of its power but because of its persistence.”  –Jim Watkins

The best thing about having a rainy summer…lots of water at the falls. A lot of the smaller falls around upstate New York can be dry by July and August, but this year they are amazing. We’ve visited 18 waterfalls so far this summer. Eight of those were this past week while we took a short getaway to Cazenovia. All were on our way there and back to Ithaca. There are waterfalls everywhere up here.


Going to the Glacier

With the fog beginning to lift, we weigh anchor at 10 am and ease out of Geike Inlet.  We keep a sharp lookout for the Orcas that were in the anchorage earlier today but they seem to have disappeared.  The weather improves as we work our way “up bay”. Reaching Reid Glacier we find a small 12 […]

Envoy to resume cruising

 We sold Envoy in late 2019 and her new owners, Larry & Catherine Wood from Queensland, planned to start some cruising in Spring 2020. However the world changed in early 2020 with covid and that plan changed along with it. For one thing G…

Road Trip to Seattle: Tucson

Tucson, Arizona’s second-largest city, has interesting historical architecture, a number of diverse attractions, and a college-town vibe from the 46,000 students at the sprawling University of Arizona campus. Area attractions include the Pima Air and Space Museum, the “aircraft graveyard”, and the Arizona-Sonora desert museum. The Pima Air and Space Museum is one of the…

Green Lakes State Park

“Put your feet up, take a break, sit back, relax…you’re at the lake.”  –Anonymous
I’ve seen pictures and read about Green Lakes State Park since we arrived in Ithaca in 2017 and I’ve always wanted to go. This past week we had a chance to experience it for ourselves. What a truly beautiful unique place it is. Most lakes in upstate New York and around the world are dimictic lakes, which means they have a complete mixing of lake water in the fall and spring. Green Lake is a meromictic lake, which means its water layers do not intermix. No turnover in water means you can see all the way down to the bottom of the lake.


Chasing Waterfalls

“A river cuts through a rock, not because of its power but because of its persistence.”  –Jim Watkins

The best thing about having a rainy summer…lots of water at the falls. A lot of the smaller falls around upstate New York can be dry by July and August, but this year they are amazing. We’ve visited 15 waterfalls so far this summer. Eight of those were this past week while we took a short get away to Cazenovia. All were on our way there and back to Ithaca.
Bucktail Falls – I think this was our favorite spot. Located right off the road and only a few locals were there. We were told there was a trail that led to at least five more falls, but we were on our way to Skaneateles for lunch and decided we would have to do the hike this time. This is one of the falls that becomes a trickle when the weather dries up. It was beautiful the day we were there.
Enchanted Hollow Falls – Some falls are spectacular, others are beautiful for where they are. These falls were small, but the hike was fun and it was a little bit of a challenge to find our way. The payoff was worth it. Everything was so green and lush.
Tinker’s Falls – These falls are easy to get to, plenty of parking and a flat gravel trail until you reach the bottom of the falls. Steep, slippery steps lead to the back of the falls and that’s were the challenge begins. These falls are a combination falls the top drops about 50 to a rocky cascade of 30 ft.  
Delphi Falls – These falls are located in a county park and very easy to get too. Swimming at our own risk is allowed and the park would be a great place to spend a day. Grills and picnic tables are available.

July 20-23 – Cazenovia, NY

“We thought the best would be behind us, but the best keeps getting better all the time.” -Allan Jackson 

We spent our anniversary with Kyle and his family last week in Aurora, but we thought we should have a little get away of our own, so to celebrate our 40th anniversary we traveled to the quaint little town of Cazenovia. The town was founded in 1798 and sits on the southeast shore of Cazenovia Lake. It’s a charming, picturesque, Norman Rockwell style village full of cute little shops, restaurants, wineries and breweries, a lake, beautiful homes and lots of waterfalls…a great spot for us to relax and explore. Cazenovia was named one of America’s Coolest Small Towns in 2020.


Glacier Bay Part One

We have an exciting week ahead of us.  Our nephew, Storm, is joining us for a week of exploration in Glacier Bay.   This will be our third trip into the National Park.  Only 25 private vessels  and two cruise ships are allowed in the bay each day. You can apply for permits 60 days in advance.  We applied at […]